Jim Siergey: Real Man Rules

August 22nd, 2017

I’ve been a Modern Man for a long time.

I’ve changed diapers, cooked meals, cleaned house (to the best of my abilities, anyway), have long thought of women as equals (I’ve been blessed to have known mainly strong, independent and intelligent females during my lifetime) and have even pulled weeds and (gasp) pruned rose bushes.

I have also performed the traditional male duties, such as taking out the garbage, killing centipedes, changing the oil, watching sports and having the proper tradesman on speed dial (a lesson learned after one too many DIY handyman fiascos) so I have maintained a decent balance between what society deems my masculine and feminine sides.

Non-Neanderthalic lifestyle aside, however, I do have a few personal rules which I believe truly encompass what it means to be a “Real Man”.

Number One is to never use the Cruise Control. I don’t care how many hours you have to drive along a highway, you keep that foot glued to the accelerator. It makes no nevermind if your foot becomes numb, your calf cramps up and your hip begins to feel dislodged, you better physically keep that pedal to the metal.

Us Real Men don’t cotton to that namby-pamby Cruise Control stuff. While on the road, we don’t need to polish our nails or check our Facebook status, we need to DRIVE! We must make “Good Time”, which doesn’t mean dawdling along mindlessly at the speed limit. It means passing cars in front of us, weaving in and out of traffic and tail-gating those who don’t understand left lane usage, all done using only our right leg and foot.

SteveMcQueendriving

A real man behind the wheel…

 

The more excruciating the Real Man’s physical discomfort is, the more alive he feels. Woof!

Number Two is that any male above the age of ten should never wear short pants. Short pants are for kids. The Bible tells us that “When I became an adult, I did away with my childish togs”.

Our forefathers wore three piece woolen suits, complete with starched collars, stickpins, tightly-knotted ties and a derby perched on their noggins as they plowed fields, dug ditches or did whatever one does in an office and did it with no air-conditioning and windows that were painted shut

They didn’t let sweat and a little heatstroke get in their way of being Real Men. Ah-whoooo!

Number Three is that any male above the age of twelve should never adorn their pate with a ball cap. This attire on an adult is only allowed if he is also wearing a baseball uniform, complete with jock strap and cleats. A million dollar contract is desirable but optional.

If you have to crown your cranium with something, wear a derby—like a Real Man. Rowr!

Following these few personal commandments is how I’ve been able to maintain my virility (and it shows, believe me) in this modern metrosexual world.

However, if I ever reach the point where you find me driving down the highway using Cruise Control while clad in cargo shorts and a ball cap…no, let’s make it even worse…a ball cap worn backwards, please pack me up and send me out to New York City, stand me up in the middle of Fifth Avenue and have Donald Trump shoot me.

I may as well suffer degradation to the lowest depths it can descend to.

Mrowl.

Editor’s Note I: Let it be known that the author of this piece has scrawny legs, a fat head and couldn’t find the Cruise Control buttons on his car if they were pointed out to him…which they have been. Pffft!

Editor’s Note II: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Smart Phone Blues

 

 

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Jim Siergey: Smart Phone Blues

August 10th, 2017

Well, I did it. I finally broke down and became an SPO, a Smart Phone Owner.

Hello, 21st Century! How ya doin’? Miss me?

I’ve left the cave-dwelling flip phone users behind but I gotta admit, I miss ‘em. I miss the camaraderie of our ever-shrinking circle, the snap of the cover as it flips open, the muttered cursing as one texts having to press the number 6 on the keypad three times to get to the letter O.

Ah, the memories, like the smell of burning leaves on a crisp Fall day as my nostrils burn and my breathing turns to tortured gasps. Yes, the flip phone was annoying in its way but it fit easily into one’s pants pocket and that, to me, is more important than any number of technological advances.

I’ve spent most of my life attempting to avoid having to carry anything. Even in(pre-backpack) high school days I would only carry, at most, one book home no matter how much homework I had in other subjects.

So, now I go out and get one of those phones that are made to be carried. Look around, it’s like those things are glued to people’s hands.

The one I got is smaller than most so I can cram it into my pants pocket but I do have to be careful when I sit or bend. The older I get the more I have to do that anyway.

I can’t really explain why I upgraded. My wife received an email from Verizon that stated I was due for one so we went to the store and in a moment of weakness, I acquiesced.

pennylanepaintingThe firemen of Penny Lane…

 

All I really want to do with a personal phone is make and receive calls…and text. All the rest of that stuff, whatever it is, is foofaraw.

Although I suppose I might eventually use the camera. I might even eventually use more of the various bits of techno-tomfoolery but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

At one point my wife exclaimed, “Here you are, holding this technological marvel in your hands and all you do is complain about it!”

She’s right. I do. It’s one of the things I do best.

But, hear my side of it. I had to manually transfer all the contacts and phone numbers from my flip phone into the smart one. (If it was so smart, why couldn’t IT type in all those letters and numbers without making any mistakes like I had to, minus the not making mistakes part?)

That took up a good part of the afternoon, or, at least, it seemed like it did.

Then, my good people, a couple of days later I went to my Smart Phone Contacts to place a call and, Lo and Behold, there in my carefully assembled collection of names and numbers, is every single goldurn email address of everyone who ever sent me an email, including the do-not-reply addresses!

Grrrr! Like I’m gonna send emails with my phone! Well, maybe I will…someday. Who knows? Certainly not I.

But, in the meantime, back I went to manually scrub out all those irritating email addresses which, of course, turned into another time-consuming chore. Like the fireman in Penny Lane I like to keep a clean machine.

Man, it ain’t easy for someone born at the end of the first half of the last century to make a smooth transition into the beginning of this new one.

And it looks like, with apologies to Dylan Thomas, that I ain’t gonna go gently.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Into The Breech

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Jim Siergey: Into The Breech

August 5th, 2017

I was a breech birth, born feet first. Besides being backwards I was also lying on my front with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck.

This precarious entry into the world may explain both my reluctance to wear neckties as well as my penchant for doing, as well as getting, things backwards.

Alas, I do not exaggerate.

In my teens I worked at the G.C. Murphy Company. It was a variety store, kind of an upscale Woolworth’s. It was located in the Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois.

Murphy’s, as it was called, had two levels. From what I can remember, the top level had a candy counter, a record department, notions, books, clothing, household items, pets, a deli section and a lunch counter.

I worked in the lower level which housed a toy department, linens and bedding, hardware and a furniture department. The latter is where I was employed. My main duty was assembling the furniture that would be put on display.

I was the poorest choice that could ever be made to perform this function. Anything that could possibly be put together backwards, be it bookcase, shelving unit, heck, even some chairs, I could do it.

I was a Bizarro World handyman.

ladygagaJust like Lady Gaga…

 

Obviously, the amount of time I spent assembling a piece of furniture took me at least twice as long to assemble than it should have…and that was when I was going good. Yet, that duty kept falling to me.

I was milking that buck and a quarter per hour without even trying.

My spatial and cognitive abilities regarding building something never improved. To this day I know that I need to multiply by two or even three times however long a set of instructions will say it should take to assemble something.

No matter how carefully I look it over and lay all the pieces out and imagine how it needs to look and double check each step I take, I STILL have to take it apart and redo it.

In this particular regard, I’m with Lady Gaga. I was born this way.

I’m not dyslexic, thank goodness. Letters and numbers don’t appear backwards to me but simple verbalizations often get garbled during the transmission period from one’s mouth to my brain.

Often it will take careful precise explanation from someone speaking very slowly and distinctly in order for that light bulb to shine brightly over my head…and it’s one of those modern energy-saving curlique light bulbs that take a while to attain full illumination.

It’s my burden to bear, as well as those attached to or involved with me. You never saw such tolerance as that exhibited by those unfortunate people.

Although I do sometimes wonder if it’s not so much the saintly amount of tolerance with which they are imbued that keeps them hanging around but that they find my ineptness to be entertaining, like bear-baiting or dwarf-tossing.

I do not judge. I only trudge.

In recent years I have begun to use my ass-backwards ingress into the universe as a handy excuse and/or reason to explain away any fuck-ups I may have produced by saying these five simple words, “Hey, I was a breech birth.”

It’s hard to argue with the truth.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Liberal White Man

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Jim Siergey: Liberal White Man

July 30th, 2017

Women have it tough and have had it tough throughout history. I, as a Liberal White Man, get it.

Minorities, throughout time and still today, have it tough. The black man and brown man and yellow man and red man all suffered and still suffer indignities that pale (no pun intended) to the indignities that I, a Liberal White Man, may suffer.

Let us not forget the disabled who, like the aforementioned, must work twice, even three times as hard as those without disabilities to get anywhere in life.

I, the Liberal White Man, do not forget.

I cannot. I just can’t rid myself of the guilt that I must carry with me as a result of what the White Man, throughout history, has perpetrated upon those who are not like him.

I’m just too fucking sensitive.

Before any of you White Men jump on me for generalizing, I readily admit, I DO generalize. Of course, there are and have been plenty of White Men who have consciously and unconsciously treated everyone as their equals and have even laid their lives on the line in support of that belief.

But, you know what I mean.

For the most part, we’ve been goddamn sonsabitches.

Even though I feel like I have led my life admirably relating to accepting everyone as fellow human beings, I still can’t rid myself of the stain of intolerance that invisibly sits upon my shirt front. That damn spot just won’t get out.

Such is the plight of the Liberal White Man, which leads me to this story…

Recently, on a hot, muggy day, I got on the Ravenswood…er, I mean The Brown Line el and quickly grabbed a seat near the door. As the el moved away from the shaded station, I immediately discovered my error.

larrydavidsiergey

Jim’s Larry David moment…

 

I had sat on the wrong side of the car. I was on the sunny side where the sun poured mercilessly thru the window upon me. I did sit in air-conditioned comfort but I could feel the basal cell carcinoma developing on my skin as I baked in the rays of Ol’ Sol.

I looked and saw that there were several available seats on the shaded side in the central part of the el. But I could not get up and move there.

What kept me from moving? The weight of my Liberal White Man Guilt, that’s what.

Y’see, getting on the el with me and sitting in the three seats surrounding me were three gents of the African-American persuasion.

They talked among themselves and dealt with their phones, paying no attention to me but how could I, in all clear consciousness, suddenly rise and move to a seat a few feet away from them, or anywhere on the near-empty train car for that matter?

Imagine the misinterpretation that could incur.

The misinterpretation could very well have been entirely imaginary on my part but being a Liberal White Man, I dared not risk the chance of my actions being misconstrued.

I felt like I was in a Larry David-scripted situation from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and I certainly didn’t want to handle it in any way, shape or form that Larry would have done.

So, of course, I chose to stay and sit in the sun all the way downtown.

As I said, I understand the travails of women, minorities and the disabled as well as the LGBTQ community but, man, it ain’t no picnic being a LWM with LWMG neither.

I wish I could cut me a little slack but I think it’s against the bylaws.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Crooked Lake Story

 

 

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Jim Siergey: Crooked Lake Story

July 26th, 2017

It was another beautiful day in the north woods of Wisconsin. The sun was shining, the lake was glimmering and the songbirds were in full voice.

Cindy and I were Up Nort’ visiting our friend, Lin, who has a house on a lake—Crooked Lake by name.

Our time up there is generally divided between floating in the water, drinking Old Fashioneds and stuffing ourselves on walleye and steak in various supper clubs.

When in Rome, do as the Romans…

Lin also takes us out on her pontoon boat, piloting us around the lake and into the various channels.

It is a lovely little excursion but this one took an unexpected turn; an unexpected turn straight into the heart of darkness. Fortunately, it stopped short of being a reprise of the Donner Party.

In the middle of the lake the boat began coughing and sputtering and finally, stopping. We were out of gas.

Trying to get us back to shore on fumes and a prayer didn’t work nor did letting it drift shoreward. Then I had an idea.

I figured I could hoist the bell-shaped anchor and toss it as far as I could out into the water and then pull it back in, thus moving the boat closer to land. Inch by inch or knot by knot or whatever the lexicon for nautical measurement may be.

Believing I was a champion of sorts, having eaten a bowl of Wheaties that morning, I tossed the weighty object way out into the waiting wetness.

It must have traveled a good ten feet. Or maybe five. It was definitely more than three. I’d haul it back in, now covered with mud and seaweed, clean it off and toss it again. Like shampooing my hair, I’d rinse and repeat.

We moved in semi-circles.

crookedlake

Ah, the lake…

 

In the meantime, Captain Lin paddled herself to shore on an inflatable raft that was fortunately aboard. She said that she would return in a kayak and bring gasoline with her. We bid her adieu and watched her float away until she became a dot in the distance. Cindy and I were alone on the marooned boat, now a veritable ghost ship.

The sun beat mercilessly down upon us as we lingered in the dead calm. It didn’t take long before the relentless pounding of fiery rays upon our heads combined with the feeling of being hopelessly adrift caused us to go a bit stir crazy.

When one is lost at sea for so long, madness quickly creeps in. Ask any sailor.

Our minds began to get so demented and desperate that we began to eye one another with mistrust and envy. With lunchtime long in the past, severe hunger pangs set in and then complete delirium kicked in—in high gear.

We began to envision each other as giant, mouth-watering, turkey drumsticks.

We grabbed up the empty martini glasses and beer bottles and smashed them against the side of the boat. Grasping them in our fists as imaginary knives and forks and with towels knotted behind our necks like large bibs, we began chasing one another around the deck, slipping and sliding in our own saliva.

As Cindy and I had one another by the throat, fighting for the salt shaker, we heard a distant “Ahoy!” We looked up and through our hallucinogenic fog, we saw Lin paddling toward us in a red kayak with a red gasoline can perched upon her legs which were also red—from the sun.

She drew up next to our abandoned craft. I took her paddle and steadied her kayak as she handed the gas can and a funnel up to Cindy. Once we had these items on board, we rushed to the back of the boat and filled the empty tank with this nectar of the underworld.

I dashed to the helm and turned the key. Merciful heavens, she was sea-worthy again!

With the navigational assistance of First Mate Cindy, I piloted the pontoon home whereupon we docked and moored (inflicting minimal damage to boat and pier) and disembarked, immediately kissing the sandy soil as we alit once more upon the solid ground of Mother Earth.

Unfortunately, in our haste to escape the clutches of the deep, we neglected to bring Lin on deck with us. We did, however, have her kayak paddle.

Before night fell Lin made it back to shore. Her hands were quite wrinkled and her shoulders sore since she had to hand-paddle her kayak back but she did learn a valuable lesson—always check the gas tank before heading out to sea…or lake.

Sometimes lessons are best learned the hard way.

We did save her the dregs from the pitcher of Old Fashioneds that we made. After all, we’re not monsters.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The Pizza Caper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jim Siergey: The Pizza Caper

July 16th, 2017

The wife came home with a pizza from Costco. If you’ve ever been to Costco, you can guess how large it was.

It was the size of a wheel from a conestoga wagon. If we had three more we could head out west over the great prairie.

It was a cheese pizza so we decided to doctor it up. I went out back to our bit of a herb garden and plucked off a big handful of basil leaves. Then I sliced up a few tomatoes.

I also sliced a bit of my finger, which was to be expected, as I am an accident waiting to happen, but it was only a nip. However, I did need a band aid and the only one I could find was a purple one.

I felt like Crockett Johnson’s Harold.

Despite my wound, I arranged the basil and tomato slices upon the vast cheeseness of the manhole cover-sized pizza, thus transforming it into (Voila!) a margherita pizza. Since it was large and floppy, my wife, to be on the safe side, took over for me and deftly inserted it onto the grate that extended from the gaping maw of the oven and closed the door.

I, being the more mathematical minded one in our partnership, set the timer.

The minutes ticked by and when the timer sounded I rushed to the oven and opened the door to check on how our dinner looked. It looked good. Its edges were golden brown and the bottom was firm but not over-baked.

I pulled out the grate it sat upon, grabbed the piece of cardboard that had accompanied it and using a fork to guide it, successfully slid it upon the board, as I had done so many times with so many pizzas before.

haroldandthepurplecrayon

I felt just like Harold…

 

Now all I had to do was transfer it to the counter top that was a foot away and a foot and half higher in elevation.

Halfway through the process the cardboard, being of an inferior quality, began to bend under the weight of the steaming hot disc. This caused the steaming hot disc, that is to say, the pizza, to slide off and despite my attempts to alter the situation, head straight for the floor.

Fortunately, it landed bottom-side down but half of the gargantuan pie folded over onto itself. In my efforts to pick it up, it slid around even more and a few more cracks appeared, making it look like a miniature earthquake had hit it.

I was finally able to scoop it up and plop it onto the evil cardboard that sat, haughtily, upon the counter. I then proceeded to clean up the still steaming tomatoes and bits of cheese that lay upon the floor.

I did all this, if you recall, with a bandaged finger. If nothing else, I’m a trooper. In this case, a trooper scooper.

I then turned my attention to mending the wounded pizza. I unfolded it and attempted to rearrange it but it was to no avail. It was the ugliest pizza I had ever laid eyes on.

There was a section that still looked like a margherita pizza, with undisturbed tomatoes and basil with cheese that hadn’t seismically shifted. These two slices I gallantly served to my wife.

The rest of the pizza wasn’t much to look at. Tomato slices and basil leaves were gone. Cheese had slid around and off the crust even taking with it much of the tomato sauce. (The floor got most of this)

It looked like a shaved poodle.

If one only ate what looked good, one would go hungry, wouldn’t one? So, I ate what I could aesthetically stomach and used half a bottle of wine with which to wash it down.

Let us now never speak of this again.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Stellaaaaaa

 

 

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Jim Siergey: Stellaaaaaa

July 5th, 2017

Kindergarten, somewhere in the 1950s.

Miss Neiswender, an ancient lady in wire frame glasses, was the teacher.

We were standing up at attention, hands over hearts ready to pledge our allegiance to the flag.

On the table in front of each one of us was a glass of milk and on a plate, a single golden flower-shaped Salerno Butter Cookie.

As we recited the pledge in monotone rote, fidgety I began toying with my cookie. I slipped a finger through its center hole.

Miss Neiswender brought our patriotic chant to an abrupt halt and began to reprimand me. The entire class in silence stared.

I was the center of attention.

marlonbrandostreetcarnameddesire

“Hey, there, Stella, baby…”

 

A beautiful little blonde-haired girl, her name may have been Sandra, standing next to me spoke out.

“But, Miss Neiswender, he was just putting the cookie on his finger, like a ring.”

Her honey-like voice ended her statement by going up an octave for emphasis on “a ring”.

That sweet little girl defended me.

And that was just the beginning. Other little girls would help me out by taking turns tying my shoes for me.

That ended when I moved to another school in second grade.

However, I seem to have always had girls, no matter what age, wanting to help me in some way, shape or form, throughout my borned days.

Is it part of their nature or is it because they sense the Blanche DuBois in me?

Little do they expect the Stanley that also lurks within.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Peru Two

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